Review Category : National News

Former Rep. Gary Condit Breaks Silence 15 Years After Chandra Levy Murder Scandal

Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Former California congressman Gary Condit has spoken publicly for the first time in 15 years about the disappearance and death of Washington intern Chandra Levy, denying any involvement and insisting he never had an affair with the 24-year-old.

Levy was an intern at the Federal Bureau of Prisons in 2001 when she disappeared while jogging. Her remains were found a year later in a remote area of the Washington, D.C., Rock Creek Park.

Condit, a Democrat, told Phil McGraw in a new interview for the Dr. Phil talk show that he did not have an affair with Levy and was not involved in her death.

“I saw her one time outside the office, at a restaurant, and she came by my condo once,” Condit said of Levy, who was from his congressional district. “Maybe twice. Yeah, I think it was twice she came by.”

A married man, Condit, according to investigators at the time, admitted to police he had had an affair with Levy, but denied any connection to her disappearance. Condit was investigated but never charged in connection with the case. He has never publicly admitted to an affair with Levy.

The McGraw interview marks the first time Condit, 68, has spoken about the case since an August 2001 interview with Connie Chung on ABC.

When Chung asked him then whether he had anything do to with Levy’s disappearance, Condit replied, “No, I didn’t.”

Condit also answered, “No, I did not,” when asked by Chung whether he had killed Levy.

Ingmar Guandique, an undocumented immigrant from El Salvador, was convicted of Levy’s murder in 2010 and sentenced to 60 years in prison, but his conviction was later overturned and a retrial ordered earlier this year. The U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia dismissed all charges against Guandique in July after the office concluded that “it can no longer prove the murder case against Mr. Guandique beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Authorities say the jailhouse confession on which the original conviction was based came from an unreliable witness.

Susan Levy, Chandra’s mother, told ABC News in response to Condit’s Dr. Phil interview that she believes there is much more to the story than what Condit is saying.

“Chandra was secretive about her relationship with Condit,” Susan Levy said in a statement to ABC News. “Chandra shared that her ‘Man’, as she called him, was high profile and it was best to not be seen together. This man told her to not carry her identification when they went out. For me, that was a red flag.”

Susan Levy also said phone records from an account she and her husband paid on Levy’s behalf suggest Levy and Condit had a close relationship.

“We had evidence of MANY calls [Chandra] made to Condit’s private office line at all hours,” Susan Levy’s statement read.

Condit, who has written a book on his experience, is now living in Arizona and working various odd jobs, including at one point owning Baskin-Robbins franchises.

Condit suggested to McGraw that police tried to frame him for the murder.

“There’s nothing unusual about someone coming by my condo; a lot of people did,” Condit said. “So people have made some speculation about that being something special.”

When asked by McGraw whether police were trying to make something out of Levy’s visit to his condo, Condit replied, “Trying to, absolutely, yeah.”

“They were trying to make something out of everything they could,” he added.

The full interview with Condit will air on Dr. Phil Thursday.

Tune in to ABC News 20/20 Friday, Nov. 4 at 10 p.m. ET for a special hour on the Chandra Levy murder case.

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Suspect At-Large After Home Invasion Caught on Surveillance Video

iStock/Thinkstock(FORT WORTH, Texas) — After a young woman in Fort Worth, Texas, fell asleep alone in her home, she was allegedly attacked by a man in a brazen home invasion caught on surveillance camera.

The woman, who was not identified by ABC affiliate WFAA-TV in Dallas, told WFAA that she happened to fall asleep while watching the show A Stranger in My Home on the Investigation Discovery channel.

Surveillance video shows a man lurking outside the woman’s home early Saturday as he searches for a way to get in. He then broke in through a window, according to WFAA.

The terrifying video shows him walking through her home and in front of her TV.

“I woke up to him putting his hand over my mouth and nose and strangling me with the other hand,” she told WFAA. “At first I was immobile because I thought I was in a dream.”

The woman told WFAA that the man told her to take her pants off, and that’s when she saw an open window and thought that was her only opportunity to get out alive — but she said the man dragged her back in. She said she screamed for help and he fled, according to WFAA.

The woman was not injured, WFAA said.

Sgt. Marc Povero of the Fort Worth Police Department told ABC News that police are investigating leads but have made no arrests. Povero could not immediately confirm the woman’s account as police have not yet released details from the case to the media.

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British Airways Flight from San Francisco Diverted to Vancouver After Crew Members Feel Sick

Stuart Bailey / British Airways(VANCOUVER, British Columbia) — At least 22 British Airways crew members on board a flight from San Francisco to London were taken to hospitals in Vancouver, Canada, for possible smoke inhalation, a hospital spokesperson said.

The British Airways flight, which had departed San Francisco International Airport Monday evening en route to London’s Heathrow Airport, was diverted after 22 cabin crew members “became unwell,” British Airways said in a statement. The airline said the entire crew was taken to local hospitals “out of an abundance of caution.” All have been released.

The crew members were brought to three hospitals in the Vancouver area to be checked for smoke inhalation, according to Laura Kohli, a spokeswoman for Vancouver Coastal Health, which oversees two of the hospitals. All crew members had been discharged as of this morning, according to Kohli and Larisa Saunders, a spokeswoman for the health system that runs the third hospital, though Kohli said 25 crew members were brought in for assessment.

The diverted flight was British Airways 286, according to Transport Canada, the Canadian government agency that is in charge of transportation policies and programs. The type of aircraft that typically makes that flight, an Airbus A380-800, can hold up to 469 passengers.

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At-Large Oklahoma Double-Murder Suspect Has ‘Nothing to Lose,’ Sheriff Says

iStock/Thinkstock(OKLAHOMA CITY) — Police have expanded their search in the manhunt for a double-murder suspect and are warning the public to stay away from the suspected killer, saying he has “absolutely nothing to lose.”

Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel told ABC News that the suspect, Michael Vance, could face the death penalty if convicted of the crimes.

Vance, who is considered armed and dangerous, is accused of shooting and injuring two police officers on Sunday, according to the arrest warrant affidavit. Vance then fled in a police vehicle and posted a video on Facebook, saying he was about to steal another car, the affidavit says. Vance allegedly stole another car and shot a woman in the process.

Two bodies believed to be relatives of Vance were recovered by police Sunday night. Vance is suspected of killing them, possibly with an AK-47 and a large knife, according to the affidavit.

The affidavit says someone matching Vance’s description shot a store clerk at a gas station in Sayre, Oklahoma, early Monday.

Whetsel said the search for Vance has been expanded but he could be anywhere by now, “or he could just be very close, hiding out.”

Oklahoma is a very rural state, Whetsel said, and there are “many places that [Vance] could hide out.” Alerts are all over the state.

Since Vance was shot and injured by a police officer, it is possible he is dead, Whetsel said.

The wanted poster also warns that Vance has a medical condition, which was not specified, “and may try to spread [the] disease.” Whetsel said there were no threats made by Vance and there’s no indication that he wants to spread disease, but officials are still putting out the warning as a precaution.

Vance is believed to have one of the murder victim’s cars: a Mitsubishi eclipse with the Oklahoma license plate 943LQQ.

Whetsel is urging people not to approach Vance, calling him someone with a “total propensity to kill people, to injure people.”

“He has no care for human life whatsoever,” Whetsel said.

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Police Still Searching for Double Murder Suspect Who Shot Six People, Live Streamed Escape on Facebook

Oklahoma Highway Patrol(OKLAHOMA CITY) — Police and federal marshals in Oklahoma continued their search on Tuesday for a suspect in a double homicide who has shot six people, including two police officers, and is thought to be wielding an AK-47.

The man live streamed his escape on Facebook after wounding two officers and fleeing in their patrol car, saying that things were “going to be intense,” according to an affidavit released on Monday night.

Police also said the suspect, 38-year-old Michael Vance, has a communicable disease that he “may attempt to spread.”

Vance has thus far been charged with two counts of murder, one count of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and possession of a firearm after conviction of a felony, according to the court documents. He was recently released from the Lincoln County Jail in Oklahoma on accusations of child sexual assault.

The Oklahoma County Sheriff’s office did not release his medical condition but officials told ABC News, “We would urge caution to anyone who comes in contact with this individual.”

Police said Vance came out firing with an assault weapon after officers responded to reports of shots in the area. The two officers sustained non-life-threatening injuries, officials say, and were temporarily disabled as Vance fled the scene in their patrol car. One officer was shot in the foot and another was hit by gunfire in both legs.

Investigators believe Vance live streamed two videos while fleeing, one from inside the police cruiser and another while inside another vehicle. In one of the videos, Vance appears in a blood-covered shirt and says he’s been shot before showing a rifle on the seat next to him.

Vance proceeded to a mobile home park, where police discovered the bodies of two of his relatives, officials said. Sheriff John Whetsel of the Oklahoma City Sheriff’s Department identified those victims as 55-year-old Ronald Everett Wilkson and 54-year-old Valerie Kay Wilkson, his wife.

The affidavit describes wounds consistent with attempts to sever one victim’s head and the other’s arm.

Vance then allegedly “shot at and injured” a woman as he was in the process of stealing her silver 2007 Mitsubishi Eclipse.

The wanted poster says Vance is driving a 2007 Mitsubishi Eclipse and that he is considered armed and dangerous.

Vance is also suspected of shooting a man during an attempted carjacking early Monday.

Sheriff Whetsel issued a notice to alert residents of the likelihood that Vance would return to the Oklahoma City or Lincoln County areas, and that other people may be in danger as a result of his presence.

Local residents have been told by Whetsel not to approach Vance, but to call 911 and let the police handle the situation.

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Home Surveillance Video Captures Boy’s Overnight Fun, Jumping on Couch — The parents of one 6-year-old boy in Florida found out what he does when he thinks no one is watching.

Cody Wray found this video of his sneaky son, Dylan, terrorizing the family’s new couch in the wee hours of the morning by jumping, punching and even doing cartwheels around the couch. The kids are not allowed to jump on the couch, so obviously that’s what Dylan did.

The mischievous boy tried to hide the evidence by unplugging the video camera his dad, who owns an IT security company, had installed. But when Wray noticed the camera was unplugged, he decided to check the footage to see what it had recorded.

That’s when he discovered the bouncing bandit. He posted the hilarious video to Facebook where it’s now gone viral.

“Every time we watch it’s still hysterical,” Wray told ABC News. “You want to be mad at him since he’s jumping on our brand new couches, but he’s just so cute.”

Dylan had told his parents in the past, “I get up at like 2 a.m. sometimes,” but they just passed it off as him being a 6-year-old getting up early before school. They never imagined he literally meant 2 a.m.

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Superhero Mom Dresses Up in Costumes to Spread Joy at the Bus Stop

Courtesy Julie Mudrick(VIENNA, Va.) — Julie Mudrick is the life of the party at her elementary school bus stop in Vienna, Virginia. Every October since 2013, she has been dressing up in a different costume each day to pick up her kids after school.

Some of her creative getups include dressing up as a Minion, Nacho from Nacho Libre and the grandpa from the movie Up.

It all started when she noticed her 8-year-old son, Luke, was “taking life a little too seriously,” the mother of five told ABC News. “He was worried about being perfect, worried about what others thought of him.”

In order to show him that it’s fun to be a bit goofy at times, she picked up a pair of silly glasses and a clown nose and wore them to pick up her kids. Ever since, the month-long costume party has been a family tradition.

Mudrick created an Instagram to chronicle her ensembles and made #busstopcostumes a trend among other moms throughout the country.

She says her goal to spread joy to the children on the school bus and, most importantly, to Luke worked. “They look forward to it every year and the kids on the bus love it,” she said. “A parent has come up to me to thank me for doing this. It helps make their day a little brighter.”

Luke now tells her he wants to dress up with her starting next year, when he’s in middle school.

She says it isn’t as demanding as it looks to bring smiles to her children’s faces at the end of the day. “I try not to spend too much time or money on this at all,” she said.

She spends 30 minutes to put together a costume and uses mostly what’s in her and her husband’s wardrobes.

“We have to prioritize our time. I’m prioritizing to teach my children to enjoy life and to bring to joy to others,” Mudrick said.

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WWII Vet Gets to Visit Battleship for His 99th Birthday After Emotional Serenade

Courtesy of Battleship IOWA(GARDENA, Calif.) — An emotional video of World War II veteran Ernest Thompson went viral in August after the Chief selects of the Fleet Anti-Submarine Warfare Training Center showed up on Thompson’s front lawn to serenade him with “Anchors Aweigh” when he was no longer able to visit his beloved local battleship, USS Iowa, due to health reasons.

The video of Thompson, from Gardena, California, standing in salute as he got the surprise of a lifetime from the Chief selects, which means they’ve been selected for the rank of Chief Petty Officer, has been viewed on Facebook more than 30 million times.

“Neighbors came out of their houses to witness a once in a lifetime experience. My grandfather told me that it was one of the best days of his life!” Thompson’s grandson, Jonathan Williams, wrote in a Facebook post at the time, explaining the story behind the video.

On Oct. 26, Thompson will celebrate another wonderful day: his 99th birthday.

In order to make his upcoming birthday just as special as the day he was serenaded, the Battleship Iowa honored him by throwing a large party with his closest family, friends and the chief selects who so graciously sang to him over the summer.

“Some of the selects came back out to sing to him and we had two big cakes,” Battleship Iowa museum spokesman Andrew Bossenmeyer told ABC News.

A press release about the birthday celebration said Thompson witnessed the end of WWII aboard the USS Missouri on Sept. 2, 1945. Prior to WWII, he served aboard the USS Tennessee where he played on the ship’s baseball team. He has two daughters, four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

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Driver of California Tour Bus May Not Have Braked Before Hitting Tractor Trailer, Officials Said

iStock/Thinkstock(DESERT HOT SPRINGS, Calif.) — The driver of the California tour bus that killed 13 passengers and injured 31 others Sunday may not have stepped on the brakes before the bus plowed into another vehicle, officials said Monday.

There was no indication of breaking by the bus, California Highway Patrol Border Division Chief Jim Abele told reporters at a press conference.

The bus, which was on Interstate 10 returning to Los Angeles from Red Earth Casino in Thermal, California, crashed into a tractor trailer, leaving the front of the bus demolished, Abele said Sunday. Officials said the bus had arrived at the casino Saturday night between 11 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. and left Sunday at 4 a.m. The bus did not have seat belts.

It was also revealed Monday that the bus driver may have been inside the casino during that time frame.

The investigation remains in a very early stage, officials said, adding that it’s too early to say what caused the accident.

“The speed of the bus was so significant that when it hit the back of the big rig, the trailer itself entered about 15 feet into the bus,” Abele said Sunday.

The National Transportation Safety Board, who is investigating the crash, asks that witnesses call the California Highway Patrol.

The bus had been inspected three times since 2014 and no mechanical issues were found, Abele said Sunday.

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Testimony from ‘Jackie’ in Rolling Stone Case Heard in Court, Va.) — Jurors watched video testimony Monday morning from “Jackie,” a woman at the center of a defamation suit against Rolling Stone magazine by a former associate dean at the University of Virginia.

Her haunting tale as the alleged victim of a vicious sexual assault at a prominent fraternity that was depicted in the magazine’s retracted article, “A Rape on Campus,” stunned the nation and invigorated a widespread discussion on sexual assault on college campuses.

Video of Jackie’s deposition from April of this year was shown before a 10-person jury in Charlottesville federal court as part of a $7.85 million defamation suit filed by a former associate dean, Nicole Eramo, at the University of Virginia against Sabrina Erdely, the writer of the “A Rape on Campus” story that was published in Rolling Stone magazine, and the magazine itself. Monitors were turned off for the rest of the gallery to preserve Jackie’s identity.

In the video deposition, Jackie testified that she thought details of her alleged rape were private and that Erdely would focus her reporting on sexual assault advocacy.

“I was under the impression that they were not going to be published. I was naïve,” she said in the deposition.

Jackie said that she did not understand what phrases like “on-the-record” or “off-the-record” meant. When she expressed her concerns to Erdely a few weeks before the story’s publication, Erdely told her it was too late to back out, according to Jackie.

“I remember her telling me there was no way for me to pull out at that point,” Jackie said. “I remember feeling scared and overwhelmed and unsure of what to do. I felt like I was getting a lot of pressure from a lot of different people and I didn’t know what to do. I did not want to participate in the article at that point.”

Jackie said she was worried about the way Eramo would be portrayed in the article, admitting she had trouble sleeping and suffered anxiety leading up to publication of the article.

“I believe that Ms. Erdely was concerned about the administration as a whole, and Dean Eramo was a part of that and I didn’t want Dean Eramo hurt,” Jackie said. “I respected and cared about Dean Eramo.”

The 9,000-word Rolling Stone article published in 2014 captured in graphic details the night Jackie says she was allegedly brutally gang raped by several men when she was a freshman at the University of Virginia. The article also described her as supposedly facing callous indifference from college authorities.

But following the publication, police announced that they had no reason to believe a rape as Jackie had described it had taken place. The article was retracted after a Columbia Journalism School report found it to be “a journalistic failure,” including Erdely’s failure to interview any of the alleged perpetrators of the crime.

Attorneys for Rolling Stone said they still believe their reporting about Eramo and the university’s handling of sexual assault reports is “accurate and well substantiated,” according to court documents. Last year a U.S. Department of Education investigation determined that UVA did not immediately respond to some sexual assault complaints and created a “hostile environment” for victims, Rolling Stone emphasized.

“We made journalistic mistakes with respect to Jackie’s story and we have learned from them, but these mistakes do not support Dean Eramo’s lawsuit,” the publication said in a statement to ABC News last Thursday.

“The depiction of Dean Eramo in the Article was balanced and described the challenges of her role. We now look forward to the jury’s decision in this case.”

Former UVA Associate Dean Nicole Eramo says she was unduly maligned by her portrayal in the debunked article. She says Erdely portrayed her as the chief villain in the story: an uncaring, callous and ineffective voice who sought to suppress Jackie’s claims.

Eramo is seeking $7.85 million, based on the damages inflicted upon her reputation, career and health.

Erdely admitted in court that many mistakes were made in her reporting of the story.

“I wish that Jackie had not been in my story,” Erdely said last week during her testimony. “It wasn’t a mistake to rely on someone emotionally fragile. It was a mistake to rely on someone intent to deceive me.”

She maintains that her story did not damage Eramo’s reputation.

“She still works at the university, she still got a pay raise,” Erdely said last week.

Attorneys representing Jackie argued earlier this year that the deposition would re-traumatize Jackie because they say she is a sexual assault survivor.

Eramo and her attorneys argued it was important for Jackie to provide details behind her motivation to allegedly fabricate a story that was read by millions.

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